School costs was the main factor for me to decide whether to go back to school for my master’s or not. As we all know, school costs in the United States is..well…atrocious. Keep reading to see how I managed to get my master’s with no student loans.
Going to graduate school to study for your dream occupation or build your skills in general can be an exciting, yet costly, endeavor for many people especially with today’s tuition rates at various colleges and universities. Some prospective students may feel that it is impossible to pay for graduate school without the help that student loans provide or an extraordinary amount of money saved up. However, there are ways to avoid taking out student loans to successfully complete your graduate school program debt free. Here is what I did.
When searching for and applying to online graduate school programs to get my MBA, costs of the degree was my main concern before officially committing to a program. I had accrued debt during my undergraduate program and did not want to accrue additional debt. I reached out to about three schools to get more information about their online MBA programs and costs before making my final decision.
Work As You Go
I may get a lot of push back on this but working your full time job while taking classes is good for reducing the need for student loans during your graduate program. I continued to work my full time management job and took classes to ensure I had my normal monthly income coming in to pay for school expenses. This method worked for me because I had a good support system at my job. Try having conversations with your manager and co-workers to discuss your school schedule and negotiate school accommodations. Also, assure yourself that you are able to handle a heavy workload of this nature to protect your mental health. Be honest with yourself and ensure a good support system before using this approach.
Strategic Class Scheduling
Everyone typically wants to complete their graduate degrees in a quick time frame. However, taking more classes in a semester will increase costs for that semester. For example, taking 4 classes for one semester would be significantly more expensive than taking 2 classes instead. Create your class schedule based on what you can pay out of pocket for that semester. It is okay to complete your degree at a later date in order to save money. If you have some money saved to pay for your graduate degree, this may not apply however make sure you have enough saved for additional school costs outside of tuition, like books.
Choose A State School
Choosing to attend an online program at a state school is a major factor in reducing the need for student loans throughout your graduate program. When researching online MBA programs, I found that online MBA programs at private schools ranged from $30,000 per year or more. This was expensive in my opinion since online programs do not require students to physically be at the school and utilize in-person resources. While researching state schools, I noticed that the programs I reviewed cost less than $20,000 for the ENTIRE program. I was shocked at the drastic price ranges between private and state schools with essentially the same offerings. Also, choosing to attend a state school does not jeopardize job opportunities. From my experience, I was able to move into my dream job field and increase my networking connections.
There are multiple ways to reduce costs when it comes to getting your master’s degree so that you do not have to take out student loans. Going back to school does not have to be a debt sentence! Make sure to do enough research on the online master’s degree programs you are interested in before committing to one to avoid the hassle of transferring later on. Getting your master’s degree is already tough, so let’s avoid the stress of debt at all costs!